Fad Music

Psy’s Gangnam Style was the biggest fad of 2012. It was the first music video to reach a billion views on YouTube .
Psy’s Gangnam Style was the biggest fad of 2012. It was the first music video to reach a billion views on YouTube .

There is no doubt that there have been an alarming number of music fads to come out of the 2000s. From Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” the 21st century has seen it all.

One of the biggest fads to hit last year was Psy’s “Gangnam Style”.

Psy is a Korean popstar signed to YG Entertainment, the record label responsible for producing several other K-Pop artists that have reached top spots on American Billboards.

Gangnam is one of the 25 districts that make up Seoul, Korea. Gangnam is known for being home to Korean trendsetters and very wealthy people. It’s often compared to the Beverly Hills. “Gangnam Style” is a Korean neologism that refers to the lifestyle associated with living in Gangnam.

Gangnam Style was released in June of 2012 and was an instant hit. But, just like any other fad, its popularity fizzled out almost as fast as it began.

Right after Gangnam Style was the Harlem Shake. The Harlem Shake is an internet meme in the form of a video. Although the song was released before Gangnam Style, fans took to it after one really strange and slightly disturbing video was posted on YouTube by five teenagers in Queensland, Australia.

The video starts with one person dancing in the middle of a crowded area while everyone else pretends to ignore them. Then, after the “drop”, there is a jump cut in the video and suddenly everyone is dancing. During the peak of the Harlem Shake’s popularity, about 4000 parody videos were being uploaded on YouTube a day.

It spread like wildfire until people were making parody videos of people making parody videos.

Once the crazy had died down, YouTube released “Postmortem of a Video Craze”, stating that the world had spent 2,782 years watching Harlem Shake videos in only one month.

What makes fad music different from classics is not the fact that it will soon be forgotten. It’s the fact that someday, we’re going to have to explain this to our children, and we’ll be very embarrassed when we do. It will be no different from your parents explaining mullets or Milli Vanilli.

Another thing that differentiates classics and fads are their popularity. The popularity of classics  increases steadily over the years. Just like great works of literature or art, many didn’t even become popular until the artist has died.

People will eventually return to classics. They are simple, but meaningful enough that they will survive for decades without fading out.

Fads like Gangnam Style and the Harlem Shake became so popular so fast that, eventually, people just got sick of it. Nobody had any context of what the song was about, where the song was from or even who the artists truly were.

But, no matter how much we try and deny it, all of us have been a part of a musical fad at one point or another. But that’s what makes fads fun. When we look back on the ones that we took part in, we’ll be all smiles.


  1. Very good article–well-written and insightful, and featuring far better writing than I’ve seen in many other articles in the Mycenaean. This publication in general would benefit significantly from more careful editing. Thanks for explaining some of the details of Gangnam Style and Harlem Shake, since on principle I refused to listen to or watch either of them in their entirety! Seeing/hearing bits of each was unavoidable though.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.